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VOL. 39 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 2, 2015

Do we really need banana slicers, egg crackers

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I visited my local Williams-Sonoma store not long ago to purchase a new Dutch oven. I love the durability and assortment of colors of the Le Creuset enameled cast iron bake ware, so opted for one of those.

Little did I know the Dutch ovens are not called “Dutch” ovens. They are French ovens. Of course. After all, they’re from France, but I never realized that the French don’t use Dutch ovens.

So since I learned something new in my kitchen – about a pot, no less – I figured I needed to brush up on my “kitchenettetique.”

I’m thinking it’s time to have a cooking “Well, ain’t that just dandy!” column since there are some new innovations out there that will make you want to just bang your pans together.

With pans in hand, let’s get started.

-- First up is a bowl, but not just any bowl. If you use your phone to check your emails, update Facebook or pin a few things on Pinterest while noshing on ramen noodles at lunch, you’re in luck. This is the anti-loneliness ramen bowl. It has a built-in slot on the side of the bowl for your phone or iPod to rest. Every smartphone addict should have one!

Velveeta Fudge

3/4 lb. (12 oz.) pkg. Velveeta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 4 oz. pkgs. (6 oz. total) unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tbs. light corn syrup
2 16 oz. pkgs. powdered sugar (about eight cups)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla

Microwave Velveeta, butter, chocolate, and corn syrup in microwaveable bowl on high three minutes or until blended, stirring after two minutes.

Add chocolate mixture, in batches, to sugar in large bowl, beating with mixer on medium speed until blended. Stir in nuts and vanilla.

Pour into 13x9-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Smooth top with spatula. Refrigerate several hours or until firm; cut into small squares.

For longer storage, wrap tightly and freeze up to two months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight before serving.

-- Next, I found a banana slicer. That’s right. If you are a bit OCD and long for perfectly round banana slices, then you absolutely need this. For a mere $2.50, you can make perfectly even bite-sized snacks.

-- Moving on, I love this next gadget, and I have to have it. It’s the stainless steel pineapple corer/slicer. Pineapples are a pain to peel, but not with this corkscrew-like gadget. If you eat or use pineapple often, this is a time saver. It works perfectly and makes a difficult job easy. (It costs a mere $4 at most places.)

-- Tired of hand-squeezing lemon juice on your fish, etc.? Well, I don’t blame you. It’s such a worrisome job. Don’t fret because now there’s the Quirky Stem Hand Juicer, a spray pump for lemons, limes, etc. Just push it into the fruit, give it a few pumps and it sprays a mist of juice on your food. I can’t attest to the functionality of this one. It sounds a bit strange to me, though. Looks like you can purchase it for about five bucks. (Think I’ll stick to squeezing.)

-- My youngest granddaughter, Gwynn (4 years old), loves to help in the kitchen, and one of her favorite things to do is crack the eggs. So I always have to pick out tiny bits of shells. No worries now. There’s the EZ Cracker for about $10. It cracks, opens and pours the egg into the bowl, all in one easy step – without shells. I think I’ll pass, though. Watching Gwynn bang the egg on the side of the bowl and then squeeze it in her hand to open it is priceless. And I love picking out the shells afterward.

-- Having a dinner party? Are you the type that has to have every piece of cutlery in the right place? Then you might want to invest in the table setting diagram placemat. It’s a blueprint for those of you who, well, those of you who need the banana slicer.

-- This next one sounds like it might be useful: the bag re-sealer for plastic bags. You know, potato chip and Doritos bags. Those darn bags are so hard to fold and keep the chips fresh. So this gadget, that will cost you about $30 and runs on batteries, re-seals the bags just like new each and every time. Hmmm ...

OK: two more and I’m done.

-- First, the Perfect Portions Digital Scale. This isn’t just any digital scale. This one not only displays the weight of the food, it also displays the caloric content, fat calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and so on. It’s literally the “food label” on a scale. For about $50, if you’re a serious label-reader and dieter, or just super serious about your diet, then you might enjoy this scale.

-- And the last item (which is not so new but is still nice), is the Graviti Electric Salt & Pepper Mill. I say they’re nice because I own the pepper mill. They run on batteries, and I know it sounds froofrooish, but if you have a bit of arthritis in your hands or wrist, as I do, and yet you love the taste of freshly ground black pepper, then it’s totally worth it.

There you have it, a small portion of the new and fantastic.

Maybe one of these is something you can’t live without.

Now for a recipe you can’t live without.

Well, maybe you can, but I bet you haven’t had it yet. It’s kind of new and sounds fantastic. I found this on Kraft’s website.

Kay Bona is an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at

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